Carbon steel is generally cheaper than stainless steel, but cost shouldn't be the only thing that you consider. Stainless steel possesses a number of benefits that makes it vital for certain projects. If you require any of the following four attributes, make sure you look to stainless steel instead of carbon steel.
High carbon steels are extremely strong, which is why they are often used to make tools, but that's not always a good thing. Though it makes them perfect when you need to resist abrasion and put up with hard impact, carbon steel's strength isn't backed by flexibility. Hard metals are very brittle—if you place carbon steel under high tensile stress, it's more likely to crack than to bend or flex. In contrast, stainless steel is far more flexible, and that makes it less likely to suffer damage under tensile stress.
2. Resistance to Corrosion
The main difference between carbon steel and stainless steel is that stainless contains a higher percentage of an alloy known as chromium. That chromium is what makes stainless steel resist corrosion—it reacts with the oxygen in the air to create a protective layer. Even in the wettest environment, stainless steels will not rust. Since carbon steels don't contain as much chromium, they aren't as good at preventing rust.
3. Superior Workability
There are many different grades and types of stainless and carbon steel. As such, it's hard to make any definite statements about their physical properties. That said, stainless steel will almost always be more workable than carbon steel because it contains a higher amount of nickel. This difference in composition makes the steel more ductile, and thus a lot easier to work.
4. Attractive Appearance
For some jobs, the appearance of your steel matters, and there's a reason why people tend to prefer stainless steels when aesthetic appeal is a factor. Both carbon and stainless can look quite similar since they can both can be sanded and polished, creating that shiny and bright appearance that most people find attractive. However, the problem with carbon steel is that it needs to be coated or painted right after it has been polished. If this doesn't happen, it will tarnish quite easily; additionally, any scratches will be very noticeable and need to be painted over right away. In contrast, stainless steel retains its pleasant appearance, even if the surface is scratched, and it requires no protective coat.
Contact a company that offers stainless manufacturing services to learn more.